Special parliamentary session to open next week

SEOUL, July 18 (Yonhap) -- An extraordinary parliamentary session is scheduled to kick off next week, with rival political parties aiming to pass a special bill on determining the cause of April's deadly ferry sinking.

The bill calls for the creation of a parliamentary inspection team to look into the cause of the April 16 disaster as well as measures to provide compensation to families of the victims.

The government has been accused of bungling its initial response to the sinking, resulting in the deaths of more than 300 people, mostly high school students.

The extra session, which will run from Monday through Aug. 19, comes at the request of both the ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), which failed to pass the bill by their agreed-upon deadline of Thursday amid wrangling over the issue of giving independent investigative powers to the inspection team.

Thursday was the last day of the previous extra parliamentary session.

"It will be difficult for working-level (party officials) to resolve the issue, so it appears that negotiations will continue at the chief policymaker level," Rep. Kim Jae-won, deputy floor leader of the ruling party, said in a phone interview with Yonhap News Agency.

Rep. Kim Yung-rok, his NPAD counterpart, accused the ruling party of deliberately delaying the process.

"Unless the Saenuri Party wanted to stall for time and make the opposition party and the families give up from exhaustion, they couldn't do this," he said.

The opposition party has called for appointing a special judicial police officer to the inspection team to ensure an effective investigation, but the ruling party has opposed the proposal over concerns it could disturb the judicial system and the division of powers prescribed by the Constitution.

The ruling party has instead proposed the appointment of an independent special prosecutor who would conduct investigations at the request of the inspection team.

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